Wheat Berry + Asparagus Salad

January 20, 2009 § 4 Comments

Out of all the recipes I’ve tested and sampled this winter, this wheat berry salad (originally inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking) is my favorite meal to date.  I prepare it with 6 ingredients and once the wheat berries have finished cooking (a notably longish process) it takes all of 5 minutes to throw this salad together.  If you’re short on time, I’d recommend making the wheat berries in advance and storing them in an air-tight container in your fridge.  That way they’re easily accessible when you want to throw together a salad.

Mini Wheat Berry Lesson:
What the heck is a wheat berry? There are two different varieties of wheat berries that you can find in your local co-op or specialty food store: hard red-winter berries and soft wheat berries.  I often purchase hard red winter berries; they take longer to cook and are considered “high protein.”  The latter type is often ground up into flours.  Wheat berries are nutritious because they contain the germ and the bran.

Wheat berries take a long time to cook, so if you want to shorten the cooking time, you can soak them in water overnight.

1 cup wheat berries, raw
juice of 1 large orange
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup feta cheese
15 spears asparagus
olive oil
sea salt, pepper



1.  Pour wheat berries in a large pot.  Fill with water so that water is several inches above berries.  Add a generous pinch of sea salt  and heat to boil.  Then lower to a simmer. Simmer approximately 1 hour until wheat berries are chewy.

2.  In a dry skillet, toast pine nuts on medium heat, stirring constantly (they burn easily) until golden brown, about five minutes.  Set aside.

3. Halfway through the wheat berry cooking time, preheat oven to broil.  Wash asparagus and remove tough bottoms.  (I do this by “snapping” the bottom parts off; the asparagus will “snap off” naturally at the toughest part so that you’re left with tender asparagus.)  Slice into bite-sized pieces and drizzle with olive oil.  Broil approximately 10 minutes (or until bright green and slightly crisp around the edges).

4.  Drain wheat berries.  Toss with asparagus and the juice of 1 orange.  Crumble feta into salad to taste.   Add pine nuts and stir; add additional OJ, salt or olive oil to taste.  Serve warm.


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